Unofficial IM® Louisville Race 411

Welcome to the Endurance Nation Race Strategy page for Ironman® Louisville!

Endurance Nation is five-time Division One Global Ironman® TriClub Champions — no team on the planet has raced more often or as fast as Endurance Nation. Explore this page for some of our guidance, head over to the EN Blog or consider signing up to train & race with us. Plans start at just $47!  Click here to pick the right option for you 

Our goal here is to get you 100% up to speed and ready to have your best race possible. Every single race is unique, and Ironman® Louisville is no exception. From the murky river swim, to the rolling terrain and unique looped bike course to the two-loop out and back run, you will thank your lucky stars this race isn’t in the burning heat of August any more!

Three Bullets Video | Detailed Race Info | Equipment | The Swim | The Bike | The Run | Free Trial

Three Bullets on Ironman® Louisville

Don’t have time time to dive into a full review of the course? Then cover the most important highlights in this short video with Coach Patrick from Endurance Nation.

Detailed Race Information

Equipment Recommendations [top]

The move to October was the best thing that ever happened to Ironman® Louisville. The weather is better for racing and the humidity is low. Despite this, our general guidance still holds — bring everything you think may need, even if you’re pretty sure you may not need it! In short, be prepared for any and all weather conditions. 

The Swim:  The river swim is murky and not user-friendly. But most of your concerns will be about getting in line early — not as important as setting up your bike and transition just the way you like it (take race day one step at a time). The time-trial start puts just one or two athletes in the water at a time…so be ready to jump (hold those goggles) and swim away.  The move to the Fall makes the swim wetsuit legal and incredibly friendly to the swim-challenged. Be prepared to fly downstream once you make the early turn after Towhead Island. 

The Bike: This course is a curious mix of rollers, with a slight downhill over the final 30+ miles to the finish line. There’s enough work hidden in the first half that, if you aren’t careful, you’ll easily destroy your finishing time expectations.  Go full aero, but don’t ignore updating your cassette for the conditions.

For gearing, we recommend a compact crank (50/34) or “super compact” (52/36) if you’re a bit of a stronger rider on an 11-speed bike. Everyone should have at least a 25-tooth cog on their cassette (for example, a 25-11 for stronger riders), with less strong riders always benefiting from a 28t or higher (for example, a 28-12 cassette).

Everyone will need the gearing to cruise through the short, steep hills that surround La Grange. Stronger riders will want the right gearing combinations to make the most of the speed available over the final portion of the course.

The Run:  An incredibly straight-forward out and back course takes you away from downtown twice over the two loops. There are no real hills to speak off, it’s the false-flat climb as you leave the river that can really hurt you mentally. Patience is key, but you can certainly run with the footwear and hydration strategies of your choice. 

Swim Course Breakdown  [top]

The one loop, river swim is fast but not attractive. The Ohio River is technically water, but you might not feel that way after swimming in it. You don’t need the practice swim (it’s a logistical pain), just spend the time visualizing how you’ll do your best possible swim.

Once you’re in the water, it’s a quick stretch around Towhead Island before hitting the main section of the river. The jury’s out on what is the fastest path, but in a wetsuit, it’s almost a moot point. The pedestrian bridge is a good “mental” halfway point. Swim smooth and smart and you’ll be out and into T1 before you know it. 

>> View the online map here

Bike Course Breakdown [top]

The bike course is a great place to go fast, but you have to really be on your A game. The early miles have a brief opportunity to get your nutrition started before the hills start. Once you’re in the rollers, it’s a game of keeping your Heart Rate steady using your shifters.

Pity the athlete who doesn’t have the right cassette — or the knowledge on how to use the one they’ve got.

Momentum is your friend here…keep the steady effort up over the crest of each hill so you can get early speed into the downhill while everyone else is coasting.

Be mindful of the busy (and hilly) roads around La Grange…especially on Lap Two. It’s all a game until you hit the final turn around mile 82, at which point it’s time to get to work. Ride the best course, the smoothest line, and keep the pressure on while everyone else fades around you. It’s a net downhill portion of the course even if it might not feel like it at times.

>> View the Online Map here.

Run Course Breakdown [top]

The run is as fast as it is unexciting. Little more than a glorified out and back with a little dog-leg section, the run will test you mentally and physically. Mentally with a lack of course diversity and the false-flat outbound climb. Physically with the flat terrain beating the soles of your feet in the same place, over the same stride length, all day long. 

Use the course to your advantage — plan on breaking each of the four parts of the run down into a specific mission. We recommend the first part is just keeping your Heart Rate down. Go steady through the body of the race..and then finish as best you can over the final portion. By then you’ll have intimate knowledge of the course and know exactly what you need to do…all that’s left is to get it done!

>> View the online map here.

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